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McGill Reporter
November 13, 2003 - Volume 36 Number 05
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To the Editor,

The announcement of 10 new Canada Research Chairs in your latest issue, and the claim that this is "helping to reverse the brain drain" by Associate VP Price, is at best bittersweet news. Yes, it is good to see the professorial ranks of McGill enriched with new and impressive faculty members. But scrolling through the printed list and finding references to only "he is...." or "his research" suggests that many brains have not been hired; why is McGill unable to find any women to put into these chairs?

McGill's record this year, zero for 10, certainly underscores how much more this university must do if it is to ensure equity for women.

Abby Lippman,
PhD (Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health)
Shree Mulay,
PhD (Centre for Research and Teaching on Women)

To the Editor,

It was most gratifying to see you give front page coverage to a philosopher and his philosophy ("Philosopher's Gold," October 23).

In this age of more and more specialization it is important to not forget the role that philosophy plays in attempting to integrate all knowledge.

David Sommer Rovins

Dear Madame Principal,

Thank you for responding to the university community and unionized non-academic staff to deal with concerns over the lack of respect by senior administration for the workers of McGill. I do have some comments and questions.

Your letter states:

1) "Our goal is to work diligently with unions and staff associations to sustain and grow positive and respectful labour relations."

I believe it may be difficult to achieve the university's stated goal of "respectful labour relations" while the university is unwilling or unable to disclose its position to the union that they have been sitting in front of and negotiating with for almost a year.

2) "The university's proposal to increase presence at work is based on the growing need for stable and effective presents... in a competitive environment.

Is this "competitive environment" so serious that we should consider shortening sabbatical leaves or forcing academic staff to teach in the summer with less compensation? Please, tell us of the contributions being made by others to enhance McGill's competitive edge.

3) "We will review concerns about workplace stress and workload pressure and examine ways to strengthen support programs."

If it is recognized by senior management that there are concerns about workplace stress and workload pressure, why propose adding more work and at the same time take away valuable vacation time staff need to recharge their "batteries" with their families and loved ones, hobbies and recreation. This makes no sense.

4) "At this stage of negotiations, I have directed university negotiators to request the appointment of a conciliator... to work out a solution.

We wonder what stage the negotiations are at, since the university has not yet told the union what their position is. Perhaps, and sadly, the university may feel more comfortable stating their position to a government-appointed conciliator than to MUNACA. Which brings us back to the beginning of your letter, where we are told how much we are respected.

Lastly, I do apologize for the angry tone in my letter, but this angry tone is evident across both McGill campuses. This letter only indicates that feeling.

It is my sincere hope that with common sense and true community spirit, these negotiations can get to a more positive level, and that, once achieved, this new level can be maintained throughout your tenure as Principal.

Yours sincerely,
Allan Youster
Birks Reading Room,
Faculty of Religious Studies

To the Editor,

Re: Closing of the Copy Service

As part of the transfer of all responsibility for the public photocopiers fleet from Libraries Administration to Ancillary Ser-vices, the McLennan-Redpath Copy Service will be closed at the end of this semester. The Copy Service provides much-needed physical, informational and instructional support to the self-service card- and copier-system, as well as copies of material which cannot be made by that system; one wonders why a public service so useful to staff and student alike would be shut down, even though it not only pays for itself, it makes a little profit, which is used to defray library copying costs.

But more than that, one wonders why the staff member who has run the service for nearly 30 years would be the last person notified of this decision, instead of the first -- why one of those few individuals privy to this knowledge did not do the normal human thing, pick up the phone, call Joe, and say, "Do you know about this?"

There is a long-established Cult of Secrecy at McGill, in which information is clutched tightly to the breast, like Gollum with the One Ring, lest some rival for funds or floorspace should use it to point out flaws in a given plan before it is a fait accompli. One would think that members of an academic institution might understand that information is more valuable when shared, not less, simply because it is then more complete and more accurate; but then again, one would think that data on the implications and repercussions of an important decision would be collected before it is made, instead of being discovered as a nasty surprise later on.

Joe Swift
Head, Copy Service,
Redpath Library Building

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